Voyager Academy’s boys basketball team could be contained only for so long Wednesday night before the talented Vikings, ranked No. 12 by the News and Observer, ran away with a nonconference win at No. 8 East Chapel Hill.
The tall and short of the situation was that the Vikings had too many weapons for East. Voyager’s 6-11 Jay Huff went scoreless for the game’s first 11 minutes but then poured in 21 points, and 5-9 teammate Chance Greene knocked down four of six 3-point attempts in the first half on his way to 20 points. China Jones, a 6-6 forward, flashed past the Wildcats’ attempts to slow the tempo for 14 points.
“That was as tough as we’ve played this season,” Voyager boys coach Mike Huff said. “China Jones and Chance Greene were as tough as I’ve ever seen them. Jay started a bit slow, but he still ended up with 21. It was a good game all around.”
Voyager’s 71-58 win at East Chapel Hill in the boys’ game, preceded by a 52-29 win for East Chapel Hill’s girls against Voyager, was the 1A Vikings’ fifth straight and their third this season against a 4A team.
Voyager improved to 19-4 with the win,.
“This is a good experience for us,” Huff said, noting that earlier this season East Chapel Hill . “We’ve kind of dominated our (North Central Athletic 1A) conference, so to get some games that will prepare us for the third, fourth, fifth round of the state tournament, we thought this was a great opportunity. It just worked out really well for everybody.”
Despite East Chapel Hill suffering its third loss in five games, Wildcat head coach Ray Hartsfield also thought his team benefited from the experience of facing the 6-11 Huff, a Virginia recruit.
“If we’re going to succeed in the state tournament, we’ll need to be able to handle a big,” Hartsfield said. “We didn’t do a great job on Huff tonight, but now we have film and we can show our kids what they need to do next time.”
Carter Collins led East Chapel Hill (15-5) with a game-high 26 points. Juston Tucker came off East’s bench to hit three 3-pointers in the second half and finished with 13 points.
Voyager led wire to wire.
Back-to-back technicals on Voyager’s coach and then Jay Huff, both for protesting the lack of a foul call when the Voyager center was triple-teamed under the basket, helped Collins shoot six straight free throws and to got East Chapel within 30-21 late in the second quarter. Huff answered with five points in the last 1 minute, 56 seconds of the second quarter, sparking Voyager to a 7-2 run to close the half.
Huff nailed a 3-pointer and added a dunk in the opening 3 minutes of the second half as Voyager opened up a 45-25 lead. East never again got closer than 51-38.
Huff left the game after suffering a cut near his right eye midway through the second half but returned late to score Voyager’s last five points.
East’s girls win third straight
East Chapel Hill used balanced scoring to win in a runaway against Voyager’s girls.
Ali Cyr-Scully scored 16 to pace East Chapel Hill (11-8), while T.J. Johnson had 15. Eight Wildcats scored at least 2 points.
Voyager (4-17) was led by the hot-shooting Mackenzie Allison, who hit three of her first four 3-point tries and eventually made six shots from beyond the arc and finished with a game-high 20 points. But she was the only one of the Viking’s five scorers who made more than 4 points.
Team depth seemed more important than most night because of the failure of the Wildcat Gym’s HVAC system. The gym’s outside doors were left wide open, but the heat inside was stifling, reaching the upper 80s, with little air movement.
East Chapel Hill’s win was the Wildcat girls’ third straight.
“Everyone has been contributing,” East Chapel Hill girls coach Michelle Wood said. “It started a couple of weeks ago with Jordan (a 45-40 win) and continued at Person (a 58-40 win). We’ve stayed strng since then and worked on our rebounding and worked on our defense and just played together.
“Tonight, we got everybody into the game, and everybody contributed in some way.”
East Chapel Hill hosts Northern Durham for a girls and boys doubleheader Friday.
East Chapel Hill’s girls lost 64-49 Jan. 5 at Northern. Though Northern’s Ladies (8-12, 4-5 PAC-6) lost two of their next three conference games after that, they are still are in fourth place in the PAC-6 and one game ahead of East (3-6 conference) heading into Friday’s game.
East Chapel Hill’s boys (6-3 in PAC-6 games) also is one game behind Northern Durham (15-5, 7-2). The Wildcats hope to avenge their 62-56 loss Jan. 5 at Northern and move into a tie with the Knights for second place in the PAC-6.